The evolution of customer expectations has influenced the entire B2B buyer journey. Just as in the B2C world, the way a buyer experiences interactions with your company can be as important as the final product they are buying. The world’s top B2B Marketing leaders understand this, and are transforming the customer experience (CX) in a quest to replicate the ‘Amazon Effect.’

Enhancing the Customer Experience (CX) has long been a strategic objective of B2C companies.  Most of us have experienced firsthand how companies like Amazon and Apple have created sustainable competitive advantages.  They create this differentiation not only with great products and services but in how we experience buying from them.  Whether it’s through the instant gratification of receiving products on the same day we ordered with a single click, or through Apple’s one-of-a-kind retail experience that manages to deliver the same ‘feel’ as its products, these companies have long set the CX standard.

 

Well, the ‘Amazon Effect’ isn’t limited to B2C anymore.  Those same people that Amazon serves as consumers expect a similar experience when they are “on the clock” as B2B buyers, users, or influencers.  The evolution of customer expectations has influenced the entire B2B buyer journey, and companies that integrate CX into their sales & marketing motions will reap the benefits. But how do you replicate this experience in a B2B environment? 

 

If your company is ready to consider a true CX transformation, download the CX Charter Roadmap to launch and maintain a customer-focused culture, market-leading firms establish a CX charter and cascade it throughout the organization.

 

Customer Journey Map Guidelines

 

SBI’s CX Charter Roadmap includes:

 

  • CX Vision & Strategy Time
  • Listening Paths Development Overview
  • Customer Journey Map Guidelines
  • Customer LIfecycle Process Evaluation Guidelines

     

Download the tool here.

 

Cx Is Not a Corporate Initiative; It Is a Shift in Corporate Strategy

 

At one time, Amazon’s corporate strategy was simply built around supply chain excellence. Understanding that supply chain excellence could and would be commoditized, the company shifted its strategy to leveraging supply chain excellence to remove customer obstacles.  This led to one-click ordering, free shipping for loyal customers, simplified returns, etc.  The end result, of course, was a game-changing enhancement to the customer experience.

 

For B2B companies that are trying to replicate the Amazon customer experience, one of the most common mistakes is treating CX as just another corporate initiative.  CX enhancement is introduced as a new ‘project’ and is ultimately viewed as an opportunity to iterate around the edges.  You, as the Marketing leader, will have more influence on CX than anyone else in the organization. Still, to truly succeed in enhancing CX, it must be elevated as a pillar of corporate strategy.

 

My colleague, Fred Penteado, recently wrote about why many CX transformations fail, pointing specifically to “failures of leadership.” 

 

Like Their B2C Counterparts, B2B Companies Must Develop a Deep Understanding of All Customer Touchpoints

 

In the B2B world, it is still vastly under-appreciated just how many different ways potential customers experience your company before they ever have any personal interaction.  Furthermore, in the more complex B2B environment, there is an average of ~7 people involved in the typical buying process.  To truly enhance CX, you must identify and analyze all customer touchpoints:

 

  • What are these touchpoints?
  • What types of buyers or influencers are involved in each?
  • Which touchpoints are most important in shaping buying behavior?
  • How is your company currently performing at every touchpoint?

     

Only after you have this deep level of understanding can you make the necessary investments and adjustments to enhance the way that potential customers experience your company.

 

Implementing CX Requires Enhanced Processes, Talent, and Tools to Enable a Richer Experience for Your Customer

 

Once B2B companies have a deep understanding of all customer touchpoints and which touchpoints are most important to CX, they must then allocate resources accordingly.  They must invest in the right technology, tools, and resources to enable CX excellence.  They must create or revise roles and job descriptions to align with CX design principles.   And they must make investments that address current talent gaps.  While most customer touchpoints will not involve interactions with a person, B2B companies looking to enhance CX must invest in talent that understands how to translate CX insights into CX competitive advantages.

 

Creating a “Customer First” Culture Requires Interlock Across Functions and Alignment Around a Common Set of Objectives

 

 

Like their consumer counterparts, B2B buyers expect an integrated customer experience that is consistent across channels.  Thus, the CX you deliver is only as strong as its weakest link. There must be strong interlock execution across all people, processes, and systems.  While you, as the Marketing leader, may drive the early experience of most customers, successful implementation requires a communication cadence across functional leaders specifically around CX.  To drive CX consistency, organizations must apply a common set of KPIs that can be measured by functional area, and define SLAs between functions. Businesses should maintain defined CX metrics such as Service Level, Cost per contact, Customer Satisfaction, and NPS.

 

One great way to gauge and facilitate alignment across functional areas is to take our Revenue Growth Diagnostic Survey and ask your executive counterparts to the same.

 

Enhanced CX Drives Greater Lead Conversion, Reduction in Customer Churn, and Ultimately an Increase in Revenue

A CX transformation may be a long journey, but a worthwhile one that can generate numerous benefits:

 

  • Drive increases in revenue through personalization. With a strong partnership across multiple departments, you can monetize the holistic view of the customer.  For example, a pattern in a customer’s recent tech support inquiries might tee up a potential opportunity to cross-sell a solution that would resolve their issues. 

     

  • Generate faster returns on your marketing investment by reducing sales cycle lengths through CX. As prospects conduct research via their digital experience, they generate key insights.  By capturing these insights, Marketing can automate prospecting or prioritization activities for sales, pointing them to those whose online behavior points to a strong propensity to buy. 

     

  • Use data-driven CX insights to reduce churn and increase customer renewals. Again, by capturing insights from all customer touchpoints, you can generate usage-based data & insights to personalize interactions with customers.  You may identify customers whose usage or other interactions with your product indicate early warning signs for churn. 

     

Following the guiding principles highlighted above will help you achieve the ‘Amazon Effect,’ and more importantly, will drive you to grow faster than your industry and your competitors.

 

SBI’s CX Charter Roadmap tool to ready your organization to take the first step toward a CX Transformation.

 

Download the tool here.

 

SBI conducts in-depth market research and partners with business leaders to develop strategies that enhance performance and drive results. Through evidence-based agile methods, we create actionable procedures that, once embraced and adopted, make your business better. We tailor our benchmarking methods to each client so they achieve increased revenue growth and lasting success.

 

Explore our Customer Experience and Marketing insights, or contact us to schedule time with one of our experts in the SBI Studio.

 

New call-to-action

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chad Wittenborn

Bringing growth leaders into alignment around emerging best practices, enabling them to outpace their competitors and make their number.

Chad deploys a highly analytical approach, leveraging a background heavy on growth strategy, sales effectiveness, and operations, to drive top-line revenue growth.  Prior to joining SBI, Chad held a variety of growth leadership roles in industries ranging from Manufacturing to Healthcare.  He has worked closely with sales, marketing, and operations leaders to identify obstacles to growth and to execute initiatives to overcome those barriers. Chad has delivered results by leading projects involving structural transformations of sales organizations, new service line launches, incentive plan overhauls, performance management programs, and CRM implementation and adoption.

Read full bio >